The project aims to build a CubeSat payload as a technology demonstrator for detecting and tracking volcanic ash clouds using novel sensing technology. There is a strong scientific and economic motivation for this technology. Knowledge of the 3-D structure of ash clouds is vital as airlines and engine manufacturers move towards airspace management through a dose-based ash cloud approach. The costs associated with grounding planes during volcanic eruptions provide the economic driver. The project is student-led, building on designs made as part of many undergraduate and postgraduate projects from across several faculties at the University of Bristol.
Many different disciplines collaborate within this project. Work is done both within the curriculum, for instance as undergraduate projects in Aerospace and Electrical Engineering, as well as with student societies outside of teaching hours.